By on January 9, 2017

Audi Q8 Concept Front 3/4, Image: © 2017 Jeff Wilson/The Truth About Cars

As if to further the global agenda to kill off all sedans in favor of yet more SUVs, two of Audi’s three reveals at this year’s NAIAS were crossovers (the third was the new S5 Cabrio).

By 2015, the mid-size Q5 represented a quarter of Audi’s annual sales. It only stands to reason the Ingolstadt company has high hopes in its pursuit of another record year ahead. While not a volume leader, the pricier, high performance SQ5 nevertheless helps line the coffers at Audi.

2018 Audi SQ5 Front 3/4, Image: © 2017 Jeff Wilson/The Truth About Cars

The 2018 SQ5 TFSI starts with the Q5 platform but adds credence to its more aggressive styling by dropping in the turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine. This powerplant delivers 354 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque through an eight-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission, with a claimed 0-62 mph time of 5.4 seconds.

2018 Audi SQ5 Interior, Image: © 2017 Jeff Wilson/The Truth About Cars

Unsurprisingly, all SQ5s will drive all four wheels through the Quattro permanent all-wheel-drive system, but an optional sport differential will allow the SQ5 to actively distribute torque between the rear wheels. Variable-ratio steering is available through the optional dynamic steering system and becomes part of the Audi drive select system, which also enables drivers to tune the state of throttle, transmission shift speed and suspension stiffness to suit their particular sporting mood.

2018 Audi SQ5 Interior, Image: © 2017 Jeff Wilson/The Truth About Cars

An air suspension will also be available for the SQ5 allowing varying ride heights in the interest of allowing this sporty-ute to actually make it down the rutted cottage lane buyers will expect it to traverse when it arrives in dealerships in the second half of this year.

Audi Q8 Concept Front 3/4, Image: © 2017 Jeff Wilson/The Truth About Cars

The other new Audi crossover shown in Detroit is the flagship Q8 Concept. While not production ready yet, the Q8 Concept appears representative of the SUV expected to start populating parking lots of Whole Foods and private golf clubs in the near future.

Audi Q8 Concept NAIAS Rear 3/4, Image: © 2017 Jeff Wilson/The Truth About Cars

Despite being based on Audi’s largest sedan platform – the A8 – the Q8 Concept is only a four-seater with squat styling claimed to evoke the emotion of a coupe. Audi’s design folks apparently drew inspiration from the revered Ur-quattro race car from the 1980s, referencing the wide, flat C pillars and the broad flares over the wheel arches. While the Q8 Concept is certainly visually arresting, the parallels to a classic rally car are lost on me. That said, while photographing the Q8, several representatives from a renown Italian automotive design house spent considerable time poring over the Audi, so maybe it takes a trained eye to fully appreciate the nuances.

Audi Q8 Concept NAIAS Interior, Image: © 2017 Jeff Wilson/The Truth About Cars

The Q8’s chin spoiler boldly displays the e-tron wordmark, declaring the plug-in hybrid nature of the concept’s drivetrain. Based on a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 mated to an electric motor, the system’s total output is reported at 516.3 lb-ft of torque and will be able to travel short distances on battery power alone.

The ride/handling trade off will be managed by an air suspension, with ceramic disc brakes completing the suite of dynamic components, and of course Audi’s latest safety and infotainment tech is sprinkled throughout the Q8.

The Q8 Concept is expected to morph into the production model for 2018.

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17 Comments on “NAIAS 2017: Audi Q8 Concept Is The Jacked-up A8 You Always Wanted...”


  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    *Who* always wanted?

    • 0 avatar
      Chocolatedeath

      Yeah I dont remember asking for one. I just want an A8 thats more competitive this year.

    • 0 avatar
      energetik9

      I used to live in an area dominated by G-wagons, Range Rovers, and Bentleys. I’m sure this will appeal to them. Personally, I have never heard of anyone wanting a A8 or equivalent.

      Also of note. For every SQ5, I see dozens of it’s cousin, the Porsche Macan, many in the GTS or Turbo/S variants. I just assumed Audi never sold many of the SQ5’s. That’s just observation though.

      • 0 avatar
        GiddyHitch

        Audi has done a poor job marketing the SQ5 even down to the dealer level. I feel like more than a few Macan buyers would go for the SQ5 if it had more consumer mindshare given that it is a more capable daily driver for the average buyer at a much lower price point.

    • 0 avatar

      Why would you want a car that is wider than you are tall and that will get you stuck in downtown traffic sooner than later? Weighing probably 25-30 times more than you are weighing, 98% of the juice is used to move around the device that is supposed to carry you. If you’re constantly transporting your family and in-laws, then it’s another case.

  • avatar
    Ermel

    Remarkable how good such a close relative to the positively hideous Bentley Bentayga can be made to look. It will be very interesting to see how far upscale the Q8 can be specified, and how big a dent it will make in the Bentayga’s sales.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      Can confirm. I spotted a Bentayga yesterday and what a droopy looking cluster that car turned out to be.

      You’d think Audi/Bentley would have learned from the Gen 1 Cayenne that you can’t take the looks of your iconic cars and translate that into an SUV. The proportions aren’t right.

  • avatar
    Click REPLY to reload page

    CUV: Compromised Useless Vehicle

    Okay, that’s a bit harsh. But this is not a coupe, not an offroad vehicle, not a station wagon, not an economy car, not a sports car, not cheap and probably not cheap to maintain or insure, either. So what is its purpose in life (besides creating more profit for VW)?
    It’s the answer to the question that no one has asked.

    On the other hand, in this country most trips are just one person, so anything behind the driver’s seat is pretty much irrelevant, and the road is likely to be pretty smooth for 100% of the vehicle’s life. So by that standard, it’s as useful as any other car, van or truck on the road, but not necessarily better in any way.

  • avatar
    IBx1

    Oh wow, a 5-seat midsize SUV.

  • avatar
    jmo

    I can’t quite put my finger on it but something has happened to make S/CUVs look better than their sedan rivals: A4 vs Q5, Gulia vs Stelvio XE vs F-Pace even Impala vs Tahoe. Does it have something to do with EU pedestrian impact regulations? They are just investing more time and effort into S/CUVs? I have no idea.

    • 0 avatar
      White Shadow

      Seriously? The A4 is much better looking than the Q5. And certainly the new Giulua is a gorgeous car that no SUV can compete in the looks department. I’ll give you the Tahoe over the Impala. But is it fair to call the Impala a Tahoe rival sedan?

  • avatar
    Johnster

    I was really expecting the Q8 to be larger.

  • avatar
    DearS

    These things are boring.

  • avatar
    NickS

    This Q8 concept is as ugly as most every CUV out there. Audis typically have an awesome interior, truly well executed, and I am glad to see the same elements on this one also. But, I don’t know what the fuck they are thinking with the body styling on these CUVs. Truly hideous-looking vehicles.

    By the way, I am typically face-down in the Audi Kool-Aid bowl.

    (*) Apologies for the f-bomb, but I really love to hate on this trend to move metal by making it ugly.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Audi is ahead of the curve here. Midsize luxury SUVs outsell large luxury sedans like 5-10:1 and are on the uptick. Audi shouldn’t even bother replacing the A8… this and a “Q9” would do better.

  • avatar
    GiddyHitch

    Are you guys sure that this new SQ5 is turbocharged rather than supercharged? The last gen was supercharged despite 3.0T badging and a TFSI engine labeling.

    Overall, not seeing anything in the new one to get me out of my current SQ5. Same engine and transmission, interior design (especially center stack) is worse, and the wheels are fugly. The digital gauge cluster sure is nice though.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    Why no pic of S5 cab?


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